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Interior Health's top doctor says people need to start acting on public health advice

Interior Health's chief medical health officer Dr. Albert de Villiers posed for this undated photo.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Interior Health Authority
December 02, 2020 - 6:00 PM

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry often praises the vast majority of B.C. residents who are following the rules in trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

But Interior Health’s chief medical health officer Dr. Albert de Villiers has an addition to Henry's message of keeping bubbles small, safe distancing, hand washing and wearing masks when necessary.

“People actually need to start listening and actually start acting on things we’ve been saying for quite awhile now,” Dr. de Villiers said during a news conference today, Dec. 2.

"There’s lots of other things that society says I must do. I need to wear a seatbelt. It’s not an option. I need to wear pants when I’m in public. It’s not an option. It’s true, it’s my body but I still have some responsibility to society to make sure we can keep everybody safe and healthy.”

During today's COVID-19 media briefing in Victoria, Dr. Henry was asked about recent gatherings of about 100 people in each of Fort St. John and Dawson Creek who opposed mask wearing. She noted there were church groups meeting on the weekend as well as hockey teams travelling out of province, but said those are small numbers of people doing such things.

“Yes there are people who are flouting the rules, that’s why we have orders that allow people to be fined, and we have implemented some of the measures that we needed to take to close down places and disperse gatherings,” she said. “It makes you really angry to see the small groups of people who are trying to make a point and are misguided.”

But, she reiterated, they are in a minority.

“I also believe, in a crises like this, if we appeal to people’s better natures, that comes out,” she said.

Dr. de Villiers said the rising number of cases in Kelowna and the cluster of cases in Revelstoke don’t stem from any particular event or individual.

The cases in Revelstoke now total 46 people who live in the Interior Health region. Travellers who live elsewhere are not counted in those numbers.

Some cases did come from travellers while others revolved around homes shared by a number of people who then took it to work, Dr. de Villiers said, adding there’s even a rumour someone may have spread it during a visit to a hot springs.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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